There’s no question that sustainability has become a larger part of business today.
Going green has become an attractive business strategy for several top companies, like Wal-Mart and McCormick & Company, that have made sustainability a core principle in how they operate and serve as top sustainability examples of corporate social responsibility.
While many of these large corporations often get the biggest accolades for their sustainability efforts, small businesses have a significant impact on the environment as well and can realize many of the same benefits that large corporations experience, such as cost savings and favorable public image.
In fact, an Environmental Defense Fund survey found that 9 in 10 business leaders believe that customers hold them accountable for the decisions they make that impact the environment.
Although many businesses have made changes to make their operations more environmentally-friendly, there is one area of their operation that is often overlooked...Waste Management.
Waste management can make a significant impact on a company’s sustainability plan, especially when the waste that a company produces is hazardous.
If your company is evaluating how to improve its business sustainability, your next step should be to take a closer look at what happens to the hazardous waste your company generates. You may be surprised to find out that where you send your waste can dramatically impact your carbon footprint and the overall sustainability of your company.
How Hazardous Waste Is Disposed
Depending on the type of hazardous waste your facility generates, it may be disposed of in a variety of ways. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the most common type of disposal is at a landfill. This waste is placed in specially-designed units at the landfills that protect the groundwater around them, according to the EPA.
Another method of disposal is incineration. Incinerators are used for the thermal treatment of hazardous waste, where the process destroys the toxic organic materials that are found in hazardous wastes, while reducing the overall volume of the waste.
Many companies also choose to recycle their hazardous waste, especially if their industrial processes produce solvent-based liquids, solids or sludge. Recycling can offer companies an opportunity to improve their sustainability initiatives. However, not all recycling processes are created equal.
One method of recycling solvent waste is called fuel blending. This process blends organic waste streams into an alternative fuel for kilns used in manufacturing cement. These spent solvents are combined with compatible flammable materials and shipped to the Midwest to be processed.
Fuel blending is considered to be an open loop recycling process because it delays disposal by converting manufactured goods and spent materials into different raw materials. These materials can then be used for another manufacturing purpose. However, once the solvents are combined with compatible flammable materials and undergo the fuel blending process, the underlying resources are gone forever.
While fuel blending can help improve a company’s waste management plan and make it more sustainable, there is an alternative growing in popularity that has even a greater environmental impact.
The Move To A Circular Economy
How a company manages its waste has a significant impact on the earth’s natural resources. The current “take, make and dispose” economic model relies on large quantities of cheap, easily accessible materials and energy.
Also known as a traditional linear economy business model, this approach presents many challenges for businesses, including unpredictable raw material prices and high costs of constrained resources.
This has led many manufacturers to try more sustainable means of designing and developing new products through incorporating a “make, use and return” economy model, otherwise known as the circular economy.
For companies that generate hazardous solvents, Temarry Recycling has developed a closed loop system that takes an existing physical product (industrial solvents) and recycles it using a three-step process:
- Waste to Energy: Temarry’s waste to energy plant converts high BTU organic solids to steam to be used as energy on site.
- Solvent Distillation: The solvent distillation unit utilizes steam from the waste to energy process as energy to power the recovery stills. Through distillation, spent solvents are re-manufactured and sold back into industry for their original solvent properties.
- Water Treatment: A water treatment system extracts usable water from industrial hazardous wastes, including acids, bases, coolants, oily water and latex paint. Treated water is used on site for industrial needs, including in the waste to energy plant and in the cooling tower.
By using hazardous waste streams previously earmarked for landfills or cement kiln fuel blending, Temarry offers a more sustainable solution for companies. This closed loop process also provides businesses with the opportunity to embrace the circular economy principles ... to keep materials in use indefinitely without any degradation of its properties and to ease the burden on natural resources.
Why Closed Loop Recycling Improves Business Sustainability
The impact of the circular economy on hazardous waste has transformed how companies operate today and their role in protecting the environment. The ability to keep materials in use indefinitely without any degradation to its properties has an enormous impact on the effort to lower the consumption of our natural resources.
But, there are other ways as well that the closed loop recycling of industrial solvents improves business sustainability, particularly for companies located on the West Coast.
Temarry Recycling is located in Tecate, Mexico, just across the border from San Diego, California. The nearest cement kilns are located across the country in Kansas and Arkansas. Companies that send their solvent waste to Temarry instead of to fuel blending facilities significantly reduce their waste’s transport distance.
This greatly reduces the impact of a company’s carbon footprint since less fuel is required for transport.
A company can also benefit in other ways, improving its bottom line and long-term financial sustainability. With that shorter transport distance comes a savings on fuel and other transportation costs.
Companies that transport their solvent waste to Temarry also enjoy a reduction in cradle to grave liability since Temarry is an EPA-authorized exporter of hazardous waste. Once the waste stream crosses the border, your liability for the waste stream ends.
Your Waste And Sustainability
Taking a closer look at your waste streams and what happens to them at disposal can improve your business sustainability substantially.
For companies that generate solvent waste, the closed loop recycling system at Temarry Recycling can offer you the highest level of sustainability while providing additional benefits like cost savings, improved public image and lower carbon footprint.
If you’re looking to take your company’s sustainability to the next level, recycling hazardous waste streams has become an effective tool in maximizing responsible waste management.